During the current heat wave, when we step outside into our backyards one might think we have entered Sonora Desert. With daily temperatures hovering in the 90s and heat indexes soaring well above 100˚F, trying to keep cool is next to impossible. While it is difficult for us to keep cool in this oppressive heat, rest assured it also tough for our bird neighbors.
One way in which our bodies try to keep us cool is by sweating. When perspiration builds up on our skin and evaporates into the air. Although none of us like to be covered with sweat, sweating does help keep us from overheating. Since birds do not have any sweat glands, one of the ways in which they eliminate excess body heat is through a behavior called gular fluttering (more commonly known as panting).
When a bird is panting, it opens its mouth and flutters its neck muscles. This increases the airflow across the airsacs in its lungs. This, in turn, helps excess heat and moisture to pass from a bird’s lungs into the air expelled when the bird breathes out.
Now you know why birds don’t sweat the heat.